By: Kacy Michel, PhD- Client Services Director, Uptown Women’s Center
“Oh I met him on Tinder.”
From the spring of 2013 until the present, I have heard an increasing number of my clients and students refer to a dating partner they met on Tinder or one of the many dating applications. Sites such as Match.com and Eharmony.com claim to help you find that ‘one special person’ by charging a small fee and promising scientific pairing. While these fee-based sites have shown some success, even more of my clients in the 18 to 25 year-old demographic are turning to free dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, Grouper, and Blendr. While Grindr really started the free mobile dating app trend in 2009, Tinder’s launch in the fall of 2012 has helped the app gain more users than all other dating app combined. In fact, it is estimated that there are over fifty million active users on Tinder, who check their accounts on average eleven times daily and spend almost ninety minutes per day on the app (Newall, 2014).
So what is Tinder you ask?
According to the description in the app store: “Tinder finds out who likes you nearby and connects you with them if you’re also interested. It’s the new way to meet people around you. Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.” Tinder works by connecting your Facebook account to get access to your photos and basic information. It then uses GPS to pinpoint your geographic location and connects you with singles in your area. You can adjust settings like distance and age, and from there, you are shown individual pictures of other Tinder users. You have the option when presented with each individual’s photo of pressing either a green heart button or a red X button. Users are notified when someone clicks a heart (i.e. “like”), but aren’t notified when someone opts for the X (i.e. “don’t like”). If both users “like” each other, a chat session opens (Younger, 2014).
While Tinder may seem rather harmless, even engaging, new research is revealing that dating app users such as the individuals using Tinder are more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection (Greenberg, 2014). One reason for this has to do with the fact that Tinder users are often looking for quick, casual sexual encounters. An individual could feasibly connect to another random user in a matter of minutes and be meeting that other person face-to-face in a few hours. Not only is this unsafe, it also has the opportunity to spread common STIs such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
With the hook-up culture in full swing, it is little surprise that an app that relies solely on physical appearance would be this successful. However, the old adage to “not judge a book by its cover” is a point well taken here. Perhaps with Tinder you shouldn’t “judge a dating partner by their Tinder profile?”
A few words of caution:
1) Since the Tinder app works by revealing a user’s location via GPS software, it isn’t a safe way to meet potential dating partners. Tinder is a free application that doesn’t require background checks or any form of identification. Thus, the person you are going to meet at the bar around the corner could be anyone from a convicted felon to a genuinely nice guy. The point is you don’t know, and that should caution you from meeting someone on a free mobile app.
2) Tinder definitely has its share of shady individuals. In fact, an entire website (http://www.tindercreeps.com/) is devoted to posting pictures of questionable users.
3) The overall connotation of Tinder is a casual, superficial connection. Therefore, many of the users are looking for casual, one-night-stand encounters. As stated above, this puts Tinder users at greater risk for contracting STIs. If you think you may have an STI, be sure to get tested to know your status. We offer complimentary STI screening and treatment here at the Uptown Women’s Center.
4) Lastly, realize that relationships are built on much more than an outward appearance. While beauty and looks can and do fade overtime, character and conviction remain. Do you really want to base an entire relationship on a 2-second Tinder swipe? Think about it. If you want a long-term relationship, you would be wise to avoid a short-term hook-up.
Thoughts or questions? Feel free to email the author, Kacy Michel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Greenberg, A. (2014). Dating App Users More Likely to Contract STIs. http://www.yourtango.com/experts/alexander-greenberg/study-finds-dating-app-users-are-more-likely-contract-stis#.VIIfmYeRlss.
- Newall, S. (2014). Tinder: The Dating App Everyone’s Talking About.
- Younger, S. (2014). Scary facts parents need to know about the Tinder app. http://www.chicagonow.com/tween-us/2014/01/tinder-app-parents-facts-scary/